As I write this, Major League Baseball is in the middle of its grand finale, the World Series. Never mind the misnomer (really, shouldn’t the WORLD series involve, you know, the entire world?); the World Series showcases, theoretically, the best teams in baseball. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been a baseball fan for a long time. It was my first sport and, through school anyway, my last. I’ll probably always be a baseball fan, to varying degrees. I watched as much of 87 and 91 as I could. I remember going crazy in 2004 when the Twins lost a game 2 heartbreaker in the 12th inning against the Yankees. I remember listening in the car in 2009 when the Twins won game 163 in 12. We were driving to Iowa and I made my wife drive slower so we could keep the AM feed for as long as possible. Yet for as much as I love baseball, it doesn’t consume my life like it used to. Now, I have a new fix. Cycling. The Twins will always be my first sporting love, but much like the Angelina Jolie to baseball’s Jennifer Aniston, cycling has stolen my sporting heart. (Yes, I just compared myself to Brad Pitt. It’s my fricking blog. And even though I would take Aniston over Jolie, you get the point. Anyway…) So why do I enjoy cycling more? 5 Reasons:
- The recent US Pro Cycling Challenge boosted Colorado’s economy by $83.5 million… and didn’t need a new stadium. The Tour de France organizers will never throw a fit and demand a new Alpe d’Huez or they’re moving their race to North Carolina or selling the race to the league (both actual threats from the Twins). The sport isn’t above the place, it is the place.
- Access. Amateurs can ride in the same places as the pros. For example, in 2010 my wife and I rode on Swan Mountain Rd. just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. This year, the aforementioned US Pro Cycling Challenge rode over the very same road. This is a sport of the people and the world. Bike races are held everywhere and everyone has access. If there’s a race, just go and watch. No country clubs, personal seat licenses, season tickets. Just racing.
- You never know what’s going to happen in any sport, but in cycling, the odds aren’t in anyone’s favor. In fact, they’re stacked against you pretty hard. All things being equal (yes, I know they’re not, but), any team in baseball as a 1/32 (3.125%) chance of winning the World Series. In the recent Giro di Lombardia, the last major road race on the calendar, Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg won his first ever major bike race against 199 other riders. That’s a 1/200 (0.5%) probability.
- You can do it on your own. Playing baseball with one person isn’t fun, but you can go on a bike ride by yourself.
- Cyclists dress better.
This isn’t to say cycling doesn’t have its shortcomings and challenges vs. major pro sports. I’d love to see cycling teams disband for lack of results, not sponsors. But then I’d like to see baseball teams maintain their “Major” status through results, not monopoly control over the league, i.e. demote teams based on results to AAA – even if that means the Twins are in AAA next year (and yes, that means ‘91 may have never happened, but you can’t say what other factors would have been there, so there).
Don’t get me wrong, I still love baseball, but let’s be real, cycling’s better.